A female soldier says she was sexually assaulted while in training at Fort Sill “by 22 troops” at the Oklahoma base, according to a new report.
The Army confirmed this week that an investigation into sexual assault at the base is ongoing and that multiple instructors have been suspended, but did not confirm the number involved.
What are the details?
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, Commanding General of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, held a press conference announcing that the alleged victim came forward on Saturday.
The Lawton Constitution reported that “Kamper said all cadre involved in the assault allegation have been suspended and removed from any training environment” while the Army investigates the claims.
Kamper told reporters, “This soldier who came forward with allegations of sexual assault is absolutely safe. She has special victims counsel and access to all victim services.”
He added, “We’re just heartbroken, just sad, sad that something like this happened. On a personal level it is just heartbreaking.”
The Intercept reported Friday that an official with direct knowledge of the case told the outlet that the military “is scrutinizing allegations of multiple assaults against the soldier by 22 service members” and that “video of one incident under investigation involving several drill sergeants was circulating at the base and was obtained by Army investigators.”
“I heard the term ‘sex ring’ thrown around, which is not one you love to hear,” the official said, adding, “It’s been bad historically but brass is already calling this Fort Hood 2.0. It was a dark day at work today.”
Fort Hood has faced heavy criticism for a high number of deaths, sexual assault and harassment in recent years that fell under the microscope after the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen by another soldier at the base. The Army fired or suspended 14 officers and soldiers at Fort Hood last year following an investigation sparked by outrage over Guillen’s murder.
According to Task & Purpose, “Sexual relationships of any kind between trainees and drill sergeants are considered sexual assault, according to a defense official, because the Army considers trainees incapable of consent given the power dynamics.”
Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Chris Grey confirmed to the military-focused outlet that the allegations were being investigated and taken “extremely seriously.” Army spokeswoman Col. Cathy Wilkinson told Task & Purpose “that reports of a video of one of the incidents being obtained by investigators is false.”
One official said that if the number of suspects involved in the Fort Sill investigation is “really that high, it’s incomprehensible.”